We need to have an honest conversation about race in America.
Liam Neeson tells a personal story of anger, prejudice, and growth.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Not THAT honest, Liam!
In case you hadn't heard, the actor is in all sorts of trouble because he told the following story:
It begins as an explanation of how his latest character turns to anger. “There’s something primal – God forbid you’ve ever had a member of your family hurt under criminal conditions,” he begins, hesitantly but thoughtfully. “I’ll tell you a story. This is true.”
It was some time ago. Neeson had just come back from overseas to find out about the rape. “She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson says. “But my immediate reaction was…” There’s a pause. “I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person.
“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody – I’m ashamed to say that – and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some [Neeson gestures air quotes with his fingers] ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could,” another pause, “kill him.”
Neeson clearly knows what he’s saying, and how shocking it is, how appalling. “It took me a week, maybe a week and a half, to go through that. She would say, ‘Where are you going?’ and I would say, ‘I’m just going out for a walk.’ You know? ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘No no, nothing’s wrong.’”
He deliberately withholds details to protect the identity of the victim. “It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that,” he says. “And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.”
So, now he's being un-invited from appearances. Promotional events for his movie (about vigilante justice) are being canceled.
Kira Davis at Townhall.com wrote a thoughtful piece about this, that I highly recommend.
He says he told the story as a type of confession to his own negative thoughts about race and expressed great shame about those feelings, which he eventually left behind.
However, many fans are upset by his shocking revelation. Some are questioning if he’s even in his right mind to publicly admit he has harbored racist sentiments.
You know that “honest conversation about race” Americans are always being told we need to have? I’ve never thought we were capable of having it. Truthfully, I think Neeson’s confession is the perfect place to start.
The story she tells of a panel discussion on race was very insightful. Seriously. It's a good piece. Davis goes on:
What Neeson did was very brave. He uttered uncomfortable truths about himself and his own prejudice. We shouldn’t be shaming him for it. As Dr. Jordan Peterson says often, we can’t discuss bad ideas and how to make them right if we can’t even hear them in the first place.
The “race conversation” can’t be a conversation unless we allow ourselves to hear thoughts and ideas that are hurtful and angering.
Unfortunately, I don't believe our society is equipped - or particularly interested - to discuss race in any other way but to extract pain from perceived opponents.
Pete's Prep: Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019
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